Arlington’s own Key Elementary School was named “Colegio del Año” or School of the Year by the Embassy of Spain.
“We were really excited to be recognized,” said Key’s principal, Marjorie Myers, who accepted the award at a ceremony earlier this month at the Embassy of Spain.
The school — and about 90 others in the United States and Canada — is affiliated as an International Spanish Academy (ISA) by the Ministry of Education of Spain. The ISAs are recognized for their academic prestige and the affiliated schools sign a collaborative agreement that is carried out with the local school system in collaboration with the Ministry of Education of Spain, according to a press release from Arlington Public Schools.
The agreement entails a promise to “employ a bilingual curriculum for all or part of their student body.”
Key Elementary has been a Spanish immersion school in Arlington for the last 25 years. With their title of School of the Year comes 5,000 books in Spanish and a certificate for a Key Elementary teacher to go to Spain and take a course in Spanish.
“I have teachers now who have grown up speaking Spanish and I also have a few who have lived here most of their lives and their parents spoke Spanish but they never studied in their own countries,” Myers said. “So someone would be a good candidate to take literature and advanced grammar and writing and make them better.”
Myers has been the principal at the school, nicknamed “Escuela Key,” or “Key School” in English, for 18 years. She said that in the time she has been principal, she’s seen some changes among the student body.
“Eighteen years ago the Hispanic students were almost exclusively first generation, and now they are second or third generation,” Myers aid. “A lot of families in Arlington now want to make sure their children speak Spanish as a heritage language rather then a second language.”
Students at Key Elementary speak 50 percent of their school day in Spanish, with many academic and arts classes getting taught in Spanish or English. Over 600 students are enrolled.
“I think it’s been very nice having the Ministry of Education recognize our efforts,” Myers said. “It’s not easy to keep this program going but fortunately in Arlington there’s been a lot of support.”
For more information about Key Elementary, visit their website.
View our gallery of the first day of school at Key Elementary.